Monday, April 1, 2013


Michel Bouquet cuts an impressive figure as the elderly and arthritic Pierre-August Renoir in "Renoir," which satisfies my friend Sally Aminoff's criteria: she'll only see pretty movies about pretty people in pretty clothes. Actually, Renoir's young muse Andrée (Christa Theret) and assorted other bathing beauties spend much of their time here in the altogether. The movie is lovely to look at, with some strikingly beautiful images and the gay insouciance of a summer in the country free of quotidian concerns. Andrée's romance with Renoir's injured-in-WWI soldier son Jean (who later became the renowned film director), though, goes nowhere, and she herself isn't as interesting a character as the filmmakers think. The central presence is the artist himself, who despite his infirmities never becomes that querulous valetudinarian of cliché. For him, the work is paramount, and this oblique biography ends with just the right shot of him in serene contemplation.

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